Trail running has a number of advantages that can help you get faster and prevent injuries. Even if you're training for a road race like a marathon, running a majority of your miles on the trails can provide a huge boost to your fitness.
Trail running introduces more surface variety (and running variations are a good thing) than sticking to your neighborhood streets or sidewalks. Undulating terrain, debris and obstacles like rocks and roots that force your body to move differently than if you were on a smoother surface.
And believe it or not, this is helpful for injury prevention. Running injuries are called repetitive stress injuries for a reason: they result from repeating the same motion (running) over and over again.
Trail running is also a fantastic way to reduce this repetition and alter your stride. As you go around corners, up hills, navigate obstacles and run down hills, your stride will change. Foot strike, cadence and stride length will vary too, reducing repetition.
You'll also notice that you probably run slower on more technical trails than you do on the road or track. Because of all those obstacles, you'll have to slow down to navigate the more challenging terrain.
As you begin to run on trails, there are several exercises you should practice to ensure that you that run confidently, athletically and without hurting yourself. Let's get to it.
Boosting Your Athleticism
Running over uneven terrain—and especially running fast on uneven terrain—requires more agility, proprioception and general athleticism, so you need to be ready for that.
Naturally, the best way to improve your trail running is to run easy trails a few times a week. Practice makes perfect, of course.